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Other titles in the Jewish Lives series:
Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives)by Saul Friedleander
Synopses & Reviews
Franz Kafka was the poet of his own disorder. Throughout his life he struggled with a pervasive sense of shame and guilt that left traces in his daily existenceandmdash;in his many letters, in his extensive diaries, and especially in his fiction. This stimulating book investigates some of the sources of Kafkaandrsquo;s personal anguish and its complex reflections in his imaginary world.
In his query, Saul Friedlandauml;nder probes major aspects of Kafkaandrsquo;s life (family, Judaism, love and sex, writing, illness, and despair) that until now have been skewed by posthumous censorship. Contrary to Kafkaandrsquo;s dying request that all his papers be burned, Max Brod, Kafkaandrsquo;s closest friend and literary executor, editedand#160;and publishedand#160;the authorandrsquo;s novels and other works soon after his death in 1924. Friedlandauml;nder shows that, when reinserted in Kafkaandrsquo;s letters and diaries, deleted segments lift the mask of andldquo;sainthoodandrdquo; frequently attached to the writer and thus restore previously hidden aspects of his individuality.
"Pulitzer Prize winner Friedlander (for The Years of Extermination) elucidates the enigmas and psychological drama of Kafka's life that undergird the complexities of his fiction. He expounds upon Kafka's emotionally fraught and ambivalent relationships to his friends, family, lovers, Judaism, and own body. Despite the careful presentation of minutiae the conclusions Friedlander draws feel reductive and speculative. For instance, Friedlander unequivocally and repeatedly avers Kafka's homosexuality despite admitting that Kafka only romantically pursued woman, and never confessed such desires, even in his diaries. Friedlander's attempt to undermine Max Brod's portrayal of Kafka as a saint provides illuminating material. However, his portrait of Kafka, as an abject melancholic feels equally caricatured; his analysis is more even handed than his deductions. Friedlander highlights the shame and guilt that undeniably plagued Kafka, but also includes biographical details that contradict this claim, such as his youthful carousing with friends, flirting with women, and frequenting nightclubs. Kafka's biography is as complicated and nuanced, dare one say 'Kafkaesque' as his literature, and this biography falls disappointingly short in its treatment of these intricacies. Despite such shortcomings, Friedlander's Kafka monograph has worthy moments of provocative insight through a careful mining of the recent release of new material. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A highly original and engaging appraisal of Kafkaand#8217;s life, work, legacy, and thought
In this highly original book, Saul Friedlandauml;nder appraises Kafkaandrsquo;s life and work, tracing his personal anguish as reflected in his writings and showing how earlier censorship efforts concealed crucial aspects of Kafkaandrsquo;s individuality.
About the Author
Saul Friedlandauml;nder is a renowned historian of the Holocaust and in 2008 won the Pulitzer Prize for the second volume of his influential work The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939andndash;1945. He is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History and Club 39 Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies at UCLA. Friedlandauml;nder was born in Prague and spent his boyhood in Nazi-occupied France. He now lives in Los Angeles.
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